Monday, May 10, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)


Only once or twice a year, I truly get EXCITED about seeing a movie, most of my life being immersed in mediocre child-friendly flicks. The cherry on top of my Mother's Day yesterday was the long-anticipated viewing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with my friend Marianne, who has also read the book. The movie was being shown at Orlando's one and only indie movie theater for exactly one week, and I'll be cracked if I was missing it.

Like the book, the movie is incredibly intense and very violent, but appropriately so. Softening anything here would have done a disservice to the story. My stomach was in knots for most of the film, and Marianne had her hands over her mouth and occasionally her eyes. Crime scene photos, graphic sex scenes, and scenes of rape and torture were not for the faint of heart. But if you read the book, you know this. There was a group next to us consisting of what looked like mom, dad, and two mid-teenage girls who were smoked out by the halfway mark, leaving a half-eaten meal in their wake. Lesson learned: do a little research before you bring your teens to an NR rated film.

The casting was spectacular. As many of you know, I have a bit of a crush on Lisbeth...just a peculiar fascination with such a vivid, enigmatic literary character. So it was important that this Noomi Repace chick fit the bill. The character of Mikael Blomqvist was equally as important. And they nailed it. Lisbeth was boyish and sinewy, odd-acting, distant and cold. She embodied Lisbeth. Mikael was smooth, earnest, persistent and good-looking in a non-traditional sense.






Marianne and I only took one exception with the casting. We were not thrilled with the character of Erika, Mikael's lover/work colleague. She was much less glamorous and much more weathered than we had imagined, but her part in the movie was minimal.

All of this being said, I walked out of the film feeling a little perturbed at the liberties they took with the screenplay. Listen, I know when you are attempting to convert a 600 page book to a 2 1/2 hour movie, some of the intricacies are left behind. How much longer would the movie have been if they would have portrayed Mikael as a ladies' man though? And what I would consider key plot points were completely changed. A secret from Lisbeth's past, revealed in the second book, is shown. Things were happening at the end of the movie that had Marianne and I shaking our heads in denial, whispering to each other "No! That is just wrong! That is not the way it is supposed to be!". On the way home, we tried to understand WHY these decisions were made, but we never found a satisfying answer. It may sound like we really need to get a life and focus on something more important like world hunger or the war in Iraq. But I guess I feel a little protective because Larsson is not around anymore to protect the integrity of his story.

If you were seeing this movie without the benefit of reading the book, or if you didn't remember much from the book, I think you would find the movie worth your time and money. Apparently Sony has bought the right to make a US version of the movie, with a little trash-talking about the quality of the Swedish version (maybe they didn't like the plot manipulations either?). I don't think that is warranted, but I will be very interested to see the final product and compare.

4 out of 5 stars



25 comments:

trish said...

Thanks for the rundown of this movie/book. I had a chance to read dragon tattoo a couple of years ago (loaned to me from a friend) but passed it up in favor of something else. Now that the movie is out though I want to go back and read the book first. I'm even thinking I should read all the books in the trilogy and just wait for the movies to come out on dvd. Hmmm . . .

Kim Frazier said...

I am looking forward to seeing the movie even though it is not the same as the book. I am glad the casting was pretty decent. When I have read the book, I have certain expectations of what the characters should look and act like! I was hoping you would tell us abt it today!

farmlanebooks said...

I wasn't a fan of the book, but plan to watch the film as soon as it is released on DVD. It is good to know about the spoilers for book 2, but as I don't plan to read it I think I'll be OK :-)

Book Dilettante said...

This hasn't reached us yeat and I hope it does. Harvee
Book Dilettante

The Bumbles said...

I wouldn't mind them cutting a lot out from the book myself, since as you know I didn't really like it. It is nice to hear that they didn't smooth over some of those rough scenes - I felt they were the most interesting parts of the book. I hate it when movies gloss over things to try to make it appropriate for a larger audience. I am glad that the 2 main characters were cast well. It seems the casting of the Lisbeth role would make or break the movie. Fun that you were able to see it with your friend - sounds like a great girls night out.

Zibilee said...

Oh no! I didn't know this was only going to be showing for one week! I had really wanted to see it, but I guess now I am going to have to wait for Netflix. I am glad to hear that you liked it, but also a little frustrated to hear that the movie took such big liberties with the story.

Serena said...

That is crazy...only 1 week showing. Wow...I have to see this movie...I'm glad it stayed true to the book.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Totally agree with you on Erika, but not on Mikael being a ladies' man. Even though I was a little flummoxed when they didn't show him having an affair with one of the Varners, I think then they would have had to add many more scenes to show how that complicated matters. As for the secret from Lisbeth's past, I thought it probably would still be a secret if you hadn't read the books and didn't know what was going on. They never really said who it was or any of that.

bermudaonion said...

I plan to go see this if it comes near me and I haven't read the book. It sounds like I'd enjoy it!

Jenners said...

Thanks for the review! I'm very curious to see this Lisbeth now! And I can imagine they would have to change or shorten some things ... but it sounds like they took one too many liberties.

Julie P. said...

I'll consider myself warned, but I'm still dying to see it!

Melody said...

I just checked the 'coming soon' list online for our local cinemas and am not surprised that this movie (like some of the others) will only be released at a later date (August). I'm not sure why the delay, but perhaps this is a good excuse for me to get started with the book first? ;P

sharazad said...

I still can't get a copy of this from the library and I had no idea a movie was being made.

But I sympathize--I hate when unimaginative people take liberties with a story I like. sometimes they add and subtract things for no apparent reason at all!

Kathie Smith said...

Glad you enjoyed it San. Next one hits theaters in July. US remake to start shooting in the fall. Carey Mulligan is reportedly cast as Lisbeth. I'm not seein' that so much, but who knows.

Avid Reader said...

I've read the book and recently saw the movie too. I definitely agree that the rape scene is graphic and hard to see. I'm always frustrated when they take drastic liberties with the plot for a movie, but at the same time I've grown to expect it. I did love the casting for Lisbeth and Mikael. I think she would be particularly hard to cast and they did a great job. I'll definitely see the next one if it comes out in a theater anywhere near me.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Holy crow, this is a MOVIE? Shows how absolutely out of touch I am with popular culture these days. I loved the books, though.

Did I tell you I ordered the book Shutter Island because you were talking about the movie? You're killing me here...

Kathleen said...

Glad you enjoyed the movie and your day. I still haven't read the book yet. I know, just tattoo a huge L on my forehead!

heidenkind said...

I didn't even know this had been turned into a movie.

Iliana said...

I think either this didn't make it to our theaters in Austin or maybe it was when I was housebound and so I missed it. Shame about the changes they made. Why do they always do that?! I am a bit skeptical about the US version but I'd probably go see it.

caite said...

it is not playing in a large number of theatres...but it did make it to our backwater and I did go see it.
Pretty much, I thought theye did a very good job. It is a big and complex book and it is hard to get that all in a movie. yes, they changed some things and no, I often could not undersatnd WHY they did..but I will forgive them because..

I think they did a fine, fine job in the casting. Lizbeth was spot on. Mikael, not quite as I pictured him, but totally exceptable. Erika...yes, not as glam as I would have thought, but fine.

Because I am sure the US version will screw the casting up. I just know it. They will, without question, screw the casting of Lizbeth up and it is all about Lizbeth. watch..they will make her blonde or something! ;-)

Beth F said...

I haven't read this -- I need to go into the movie with my own ideas...

Anna said...

I'm more likely to see the movie than read the book. For some reason, the books just don't stand out to me as something I must read, though I have heard lots of good things about them.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lisa said...

I have got to get this book read (I know, I'm the only person on the planet that hasn't read it!) so I can get to the movie when it gets here.

Alice Teh said...

Oh... I didn't know the movie is out! I am not sure if it'll ever make it to my shore because of its content, but I hope it would. Otherwise, I would have to source it in DVD form. Thanks for posting about it!

Literary Feline said...

I have been wanting to read this book for some time and will most likely not see the movie until after I've done so. It's always interesting to me to see how the movie people translate a book to the screen. Sometimes they do an exceptional job and other times it doesn't work at all.